Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To Do List; Tips for Newbs #2!

Just so I can keep afoot of my own projects, here's a list of What Needs To Be Knitted, And How I Can Achieve Those Goals (Finally):

* Anna's GloveMitts
I need to take a gauge measurement of what I got knitted before we found out the resultant gloves were going to be ridiculously over-sized, recalculate the pattern based on actual measurements, and metaphorically rip the band-aid off by tearing back that knitting and starting anew. Which actually won't take that long - there's something psychological about size 1 needles and sock-weight that makes a small project loom large.

* Mel's Mittens
Need to consult my notes and figure out what I need to do next on Mitt #1. My stumbling block here is mostly the thumb, as up until now all but one of my mitt projects have been thumb-less, so the body of the thumb is the issue here. I don't want them to stick out weirdly like they were especially made to help one hitch a ride.

* Rachel's Cardigan
Finish neckband, sew neckband on, detach myself mentally from the project, fold it neatly and present it to Rachel without openly weeping.

* Gloria's Mitts
Finalise stitch-count (incorporating the cables), map out the pattern on graph paper, steel myself to do more ripping back, start anew, and knit them.

* Carolyn's Beanie
Swatch; adjust measurements from the same-styled beanie I made previously, make notes on said measurement, and knit it. Await delivery of the button she wants sewn on the side, attach it, hand over hat.

* Madelyn's Cabled Beret
Swatch, figure out how many cables, make notes, knit it.

That's about all I have in personal/gift projects, though once I've figured out how I want to do the Madelyn hat, I plan to add it to the store stock, as well.

And now...

Tip #2: The Long-Tail Cast-On

The long-tail cast-on looks tricky at first - and may certainly feel awkward - but once you get the hang of it, you have a faithful stand-by for easily casting on large amounts of stitches. I confess that when I first learned it, I wasn't able to get the hang of it from diagrams or descriptions; in fact, my husband figured it out and then he showed me, and it was only with a live example that I had my light-bulb moment and everything clicked into place. KnittingHelp has a video tutorial (even better, it's the first one listed on the page, so you don't need to go searching for it!). Some more resources for learning it are:

* a precise, cleanly diagrammed PDF-format tutorial at Butler's Country Knit Shop;
* a photo tutorial at Stitch Diva Studios (using a very large needle and small yarn, which I think helps allow you to see what's going on); and
* this great article about casting on at Knitty; the long-tail tutorial is at the end, but the whole thing is definitely worth reading for a primer on casting on.

When I do it, I make a slip-knot and then cast on over two needles or on a needle one to two sizes bigger to ensure an even foundation - not too tight, and not too loose. You will also have to make sure that your "tail" - the end of the yarn not attached to the ball/skein/cake - is long enough to accomodate all of your stitches and leave six to eight inches besides, so you have enough length to weave in your end. To help figure this out, you can cast on a fraction of the stitches you'll need (say, ten), unravel that yarn to the slip-knot and measure it. You'll know how much you need for that x amount of stitches and estimate how much yarn to spool out for your cast-on. (Or, you can be like me, spool out what looks like "a bunch", cast on 75% of your total stitches, and then find out you actually need a bit more yarn. Yeah, estimation tends to get me in trouble sometimes.)

The other thing you need to know about long-tail cast on is that if you have a lot of yarn left in the tail, sometimes you might end up knitting your first row with the tail instead of the yarn in the ball. I still do this from time to time... perhaps more times than I care to admit. So to keep yourself from unknitting your first row, it helps to hold the tail end in your non-dominant hand while knitting that first row (maybe even the first couple of rows... not that I know from experience).

Join me next time on "Tips For Newbs" for an inside look at Stitch Markers: What Good Are They, Anyway? You'll find out!

No comments: